November blog 2016 Spooky times and election fears

By the time you read this Samhain (Halloween) may have passed but never fear, the old date for the Celtic New Year’s festival was November 11. So you can probably still observe it!

The modern notion of Halloween with its billions of dollars in candy sales has lost the true meaning of the day, which was to give thanks to the Land Spirits who feed and clothe us, and to give thanks to the ancestors who fought, loved and survived just so we could enjoy our own walk upon the Earth. Here are some ideas for things to do, to honor the forces and Beings that sustain us;

 

Offerings for the Spirits of the Dead 

“Hogboon, Hogboy, Hugboy – From the Old Norse haug-búi a mound-dwarf or guardian Spirit that inhabits a burial mound. While these Spirits are helpful to those who offer them gifts such as wine, ale, or milk, they resent interference with their mounds, for example, children playing on them, or cows grazing on them (not to mention the intrusions of archaeologists and tourists!). They especially resent those who come to steal treasure from a mound.

The very best offerings for a Hogboon are the first milk when a cow calves, the first jug of new ale, or the offering of a rooster or a cow from the farmstead. It is very good luck to set up housekeeping near a burial mound, provided the proper offerings are made on a regular basis.

Neglect of the local Hogboon can lead to sickness in the cattle, loss of possessions, or a haunted house. A Hogboon that is well respected and cared for will help with the farm chores and even follow the family if they move house.” From *Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore* (Ellen Evert Hopman, Pendraig Publishing)*You can order a signed copy from this website!*

 

Offerings for the Fairies

“The best time to see Fairies is on the eve of a Fire Festival when they move house, from Fairy mound to Fairy mound. It is particularly important to leave offerings on your Fairy Altar at those times (a wooden or stone construction in the garden where food and drink offerings are left), for their refreshment. Fairies appreciate gifts of milk and ale on those nights, and milk and ale are offered to the Fairies at Samhuinn by pouring libations into tombs.” From Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore (Ellen Evert Hopman, Pendraig Publishing)

“Of course, every farm and homestead must have a section of land that is never plowed and where no human ever goes (The Gudeman’s Croft). Wild weeds and grasses are allowed to grow there undisturbed, as a shelter for the Brownies and other Fairies.”

From *Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore* (Ellen Evert Hopman, Pendraig Publishing)

Halloween, Samhain, Lá Samhna, Calan Gaeof (October 31, November 11 old style)

Make offerings to a sacred fire; dry herbs, whiskey, butter, ghee

Make offerings of rosemary (memories) to the fire

Leave a dish of the feast for the ancestors

Pour red wine, honey, cider or milk in the fields and on the stones

Offer ale and oatmeal gruel to the sea, in thanks for the seaweed and the fish

Leave a little of the harvest in each field and in the water

Leave a blessing for the trees

Gather the family and tell stories about grandparents, aunts and uncles who have passed. Bring out old pictures and remind the children of who they were and what they accomplished.

By the time you read this you may already have voted. Far be it for me to tell you how to vote. But please consider this;

The number of hate groups in the USA (and also in Europe incidentally) such as the KKK has increased dramatically since 2014. There is one candidate who has emboldened these kinds of monsters who are far worse than any Halloween specter. That candidate has deliberately allied himself with the “alt-right” who are misogynists and racists. His campaign is being managed by them and they are now creeping out of the shadows when before they remained hidden. He has given them a voice. Please think of the future of the country and of what it will look like if this candidate and his minions are given the dignity of high office.

As others have pointed out, Democracy can be lost by apathy and neglect.

*Yule is coming! Why not consider ordering books from this website. You will get a signed copy and a personal note from the author!*

BOOK NEWS

  • A new review just came out….
  • A Legacy of Druids: Book review by Ulchabhán

    Legacy of Druids

    Legacy of Druids

    Normally I am not drawn to reading collections of interviews – mainly because it is not easy to provide a cohesive narrative and I tend to get lost in a lot of the back and forth views. However, Ellen Evert Hopman’s book was a very pleasant surprise and an engaging and informative read.Each conversation should be taken in the context of the time of each individual’s practice as well as the particular connection of their varied developed practices. I liked that Ms. Hopman put an obvious amount of thought into trying to organize the insights shared into approachable topics of interest.While it is apparent from the well-researched variety of individuals who have been active in the Druid community over the decades that there is a great deal of diversity in what really constitutes “Druidism,” as a practicing Druid I felt a sense of underlying cohesiveness. As I read through each discussion, I enjoyed once again reviewing my own developed thoughts on what brought me on this journey. Each interview had its own flavor and presented a constantly morphing intellectual and spiritual case for all the threads that have woven our experiences into the truly rich and evolving Path I still walk with Joy and Gratitude.This book should be considered part of any library touching on the fire, music and connection of being a Druid. This is one I will return to many times to catch the layers of meaning more fully.Walk with Wisdom, Strength and GratitudeUlchabhán

  • And another review!
    Wednesday, October 05, 2016Review of Legacy of Druids: Conversations with Druid leaders of Britain, the USA and Canada, past and present by Ellen Evert Hopman (2016) Moon Books.Full disclosure: I was, to my amazement then and now, interviewed for this book. That is not why I like it, though I confess it is why I wanted to read it in the first place.Why Review Legacy of Druids on Brigit’s Sparkling Flame?I wouldn’t normally review a book like this on BSF as it isn’t actually about Brigit. However, there are two reasons to:1) it contains an early interview of me (September 3, 1996) which discusses my own spiritual path, and of course that involves the origin of the Daughters of the Flame in 1993 and its workings till 1996 (pp 29-39).2) More generally, it is fascinating from a historical perspective for Neo-Pagans generally, particularly but not exclusively those who identify as Druids or follow a Celtic-based path. Many Brigidines of course are in that number.Self-Indulgent MomentIt is a little weird reading the me of twenty-odd years ago. I notice I have mellowed. I want to correct two things I said in the book, and then I can forget me for the rest of this review:1) I was not able to carry through with my intention (a mere year ago) to stop producing the Daughters of the Flame newsletter. It is too central to the group. On, in less labour-intensive form, it goes.2) I say at one point, “On the way to the monastery I passed a high school called Saint Brigit’s. I had been into a couple of churches with shrines to St. Brigit, in Melbourne and elsewhere, and I found myself praying to Her as Goddess more pointedly than I had in the past. When I passed the school I said to my companion that I wondered what the students would think if they knew their school was named after a Pagan Goddess? (pg 32)”I no longer think that is a fair question. Though Brigit to me, and to most NeoPagans, is a goddess as well as a saint, I believe now that historically this was not likely the case, that it is a much more recent fusion. I won’t get into the argument for that here, just say that I would not ask that question in the same way, now.Brigit in Legacy of DruidsApart from my interview (pg 29-39), Brigit is mentioned a couple of times by other interviewees. Lady Olivia Roberston has an amusing reference to the “silliest poem” used by Ross Nicholls (progenitor of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids) in honour of Brigit in his early Imbolc rituals.

    “It rather went like this … ‘Ah, sure now, we invoke the golden-haired blue-eyed Brighid, the sweet Brighid who gives us the good cow’s milk.’ This ghastly image … ” Pg. 51

    On to the Main Review!

    Synopsis: A thoughtful, chatty book—reading it is like visiting, mead in hand and cross-legged on the forest floor, or sipping tea and nibbling dainties in an overstuffed chair, one fascinating person after another as they reflect, through their spiritual history, opinion, and advice, an exciting time in the evolution of modern Druidry and Celtic Neo-Paganism. Far from giving a single self-praising paean, the subject is pondered with care, scepticism, and occasional grumpiness from a multitude of viewpoints.

    Druidism is a way of life. For some it is a religion. But either way, it is a belief system that honors the natural world in its many manifestations, a system that can work with other religious beliefs or stand just as well on its own … No one’s perception of it is quite the same.
    TopazOwl (pg. 102)

    The interviews for Legacy of Druids were done twenty and more years ago, in pubs, at gatherings, through letters and email. One might expect they would be a little stale after so long, perhaps no longer relevant, but this isn’t so. Indeed, with updated information tucked around the interviews where needed, they are an absorbing read, all the more so with the advantage of hindsight. They are fuelled by stories of each subject’s spiritual path, their vision and practice, their concerns and hopes for the movement, and by their diverse perceptions of the history and meaning of Druidry. Hopman, herself a modern Druid, and therefore versed in much of the history and many of the issues of the movement, asks brief, broad questions and allows the interviewee to take flight.

    The text is broken into four sections: “Druidry of the Spirit”, “Druidry and Politics”, “Scholars and Writers”, and “Musicians, Artists and Poets”, with introductory materials by Hopman, John Matthews (1996), and Philip Carr-Gomm (2015). Carr-Gomm’s “Failed Predictions, Hopes and Fears” and “The Core Issues”  give a useful overview for those (like me) who are not intimately acquainted with modern Druidry. Some of his comments seem a touch anti-Celtic Reconstructionist, which is unfortunate, but this is not a theme of the book.

    Elsewhere, Ronald Hutton gives a comparison of UK and American NeoPaganism, and, in greater detail, of British Druids and Wiccans, including in his observations the “interesting ironies”—or inconsistencies—found in each path.

    Erynn Rowan Laurie covers a lot of ground in her interview, offering many elements of belief and practice gleaned from the study of the ancient Celts which can be employed in our own practice. Although she is in the “Scholars and Writers” section, her views on the spiritual and social practice of poetry, her call to live out Celtic values like strength, honesty, and strong community relationships, and her final behest that we “Pursue the Salmon of Wisdom” (pg 215) struck strong chords in me in terms of my own spiritual practice.

    Idealism, hope, humour, and contemplation fill the book. I think the greatest value for me is the opportunity to see the unfolding of each individual’s spiritual path—the seeds in their young lives that led them to grow in the ways they have, and the fruits that are born of those seeds. The unselfconscious innocence of these stories is moving and often inspiring. It is fascinating to peek into the heads of such a broad array of practitioners, from the most practical to the utterly fey, to learn what they are reacting to both in the greater world and within modern Druidry and NeoPaganism, and how they and their companions have helped to shape those paths. The unique voice of each subject, expressing their intentions, their paths, how they have structured their groups and why, kept me absorbed long after I had intended to stop reading each night. They base there practice on received spirit communications, on meditations and dreams, on the teachings of friends and family, on knuckle-biting scholarly research, or on a combination of these. Some don’t identify strictly as druids, but follow a Celtic-inspired path. Portrayals of meetings between modern Druids and Catholics, of Druid groups splitting off from or working together with others, and so on lend the juice of gossip to the mix.

    I am intrigued, too, to see how various practitioners conceive of the history and meaning of Druidry, and what they choose to focus on within that understanding. Some of the ideas of ancient times and lineages read like wholecloth pseudo-history, where other histories seem grounded to greater and lesser degrees in evidence-based scholarship. I can’t help squirming when I read occasional assertions of what long dead people believed and how they behaved when I am pretty sure we can’t possibly know. But of course it’s not the purpose of this book to define for the reader the True History of Druidism. It is to learn the beliefs of modern Druids, and their views of their history are as individual and informative as their religious beliefs.

    Just as definitons of Druidry vary, ideas of who is a Celt, or who is entitled to follow such a path, are disparate. For instance, Kaledon Naddair in his rough and righteous rant warns against the misguided appropriation of Celtic culture: “ … the only people that have an automatic entitlement to the riches of the Keltic cultural tradition are Kelts! Kelts by race, birth, language and cultural upbringing in Keltic homelands! (pg 198)” Equally firm about the need to steer away from cultural appropriation and support the struggles of Celtic peoples is Erynn Rowan Laurie. “Respect for modern Celtic communities and languages [is] essential. The Celtic people are still under siege in all their remaining lands. Languages are dying, as are traditional practices, songs and stories. Going about trying to recreate something 2000 years old while ignoring the plight of those people’s descendants is nothing short of arrogant and disrespectful (pg 204)”.  However, her view of who might legitimately follow a Celtic Pagan path differs from Naddair. “I think that inclusiveness is important. We can’t rely on genealogy or geography to determine who is ‘Celtic’. The historical Celts roamed all over Europe, and lands beyond. Anyone worthy might be taken into the tribe through marriage or adoption (pg 205)”.

    In the end, I’m not sure what percentage of what is represented here is very closely linked to the ancient Celtic world-view—or what little we actually understand of it—though of course this varies from interview to interview. But what it does undoubtedly contain is a modern world-view that is lively, thoughtful, and filled with insights, which does indeed have elements of the ancestors’s ways, or at the very least a reverence for those ancestors, a reverence for the earth we are born of, and a joie de vivre that must ensure its continuation into the future. How we may see modern Druidry in another twenty years is a tantalizing question indeed.

    Summary

    I am delighted to have read this book. It is interesting, it is useful, and it helps to set a framework to our endeavours and remind us of what we are as Celtic-inspired NeoPagans: what we aspire to, what our responsibility is to ourselves and to our world. If our practice as NeoPagans of any stripe does what so many of these practitioners are in part attempting to do—change our relationship to self and others and shift our impact on the earth and her children for the better—then it is far more than a self-rooted exercise, however pleasant or helpful, it is a gift of healing to the world. For it to be such, we need to live up to the ideals we put forward in interviews like these, and leave factionalism and self-interest behind.

    Posted by  Mael Brigde

  • Secret Medicines from Your Garden gets coverage in Mother Earth Living!
    SecretMedicinesofGarden

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

HERB NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

CLIMATE AND NATURE NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

ARTS NEWS

CELTIC NEWS

FAIRY NEWS

POLITICS AND ETHICS

 

A Druid’s Web Log – May Day 2015 – volcanoes, earthquakes and a new British princess

May is named after Maia, “the great one”, the Italic goddess of spring, and the wife of Vulcan. This May is off to an explosive start, with volcanoes erupting and earthquakes in Nepal and the English got a new princess, the first one who is eligible to reign from birth and will not be passed over by a male sibling. She managed to be born at the Full Moon on Beltaine (May Day) which in some religious traditions is considered the most powerful Full Moon of the year. The Buddha was born on the May Full Moon and also achieved enlightenment on the May Full Moon. He did that latter by sitting under a Bodhi Tree, of course. May is the time when the sap is rising and most powerfully in the days leading up to the Full Moon. Maybe that rising tide helped to raise his kundalini. That’s my thought.

Here on the mountain the oak leaves are “the size of a mouse’s ear” which means it is time to plant corn. I set out just three mounds of the traditional corn, squash and beans. Living in an oak forest it is hard to find enough sunlight, except very close to the house. I also left offerings of milk and homemade corn bread on the Fairy Altar on Beltaine (May Day). Judging by the wreckage around the Altar it looks like the Fairies had quite a celebration. According to tradition they always “move house” on the cross quarters (Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasad and Samhain) so the careful householder will be sure to leave out refreshment for them at those times.

Last winter I had a tribe of male turkeys who came to the bird feeders every day. They did not appear this winter, sadly, but a few weeks ago a solitary female turkey began showing up, accompanied by a huge brown and yellow butterfly that stuck around for days. Those feel like good omens.

In ancient Ireland the time of Beltaine was calculated by the blooming of the Hawthorn Tree so every Druid had to keep watch. Once the Hawthorn bloomed it was safe to send the herds up to the hills. In these parts the trees haven’t even put out leaves yet, but the daffodils are making a carpet of yellow, announcing the return of the summer sun.

Below you will find the usual archeological fare, plus nature, religion and herb news. I have included a few actions you can take to help Nepal and the planet.

Blessings of the summer on all who read this!

*Remember – you can purchase signed books from this website!*

  • The Patrick McCollum Foundation (a Pagan charity) is collecting donations for the earthquake victims in Nepal. We have direct connections in both Katmandu and in the mountain regions that have been affected. Please make a notation on the form provided on the website that the donation is for the Nepal earthquake victims. Donations can be made online at: www.patrickmccollum.orgUpdates on Nepal will be posted as new information comes in.
    Peace & Blessings,
    Rev. Patrick McCollum
  • Nepal Aid Update:
    Hi All,
    I wanted to update you on the Patrick McCollum Foundation’s earthquake aid to the victims in Nepal.  We have forwarded all donations made so far to our team members in the area and relief is in progress as I write.  All monies are being used to purchase tents, blankets, medical supplies and food.  The process of delivering these to the remote mountain villages is difficult, but we have people in place that are able to do so.  The first delivery is in process as I write.The Patrick McCollum Foundation will continue to accept donations and make successive deliveries as the funds are collected.I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to those who have donated so far both from the Patrick McCollum Foundation and from the people of Helambu Nepal.  Your generosity for some means the difference between life and death, and for others serves as a ray of hope among an otherwise horrendous situation.Please share our campaign widely.  We need more donations.  The death toll is still rising and many are at risk.Remember, this region is the origin of Namaste which translates into “My heart sees your heart”.  Let’s show them that we see them and we care!We are one of a few small NGOs who are responding to the area hardest hit and your support really does make a difference.  100% of all donations go directly to the people affected.
    Blessings,
    Rev. Patrick McCollum
    Donations can be made online at: www.patrickmccollum.org
  • Prayers for Nepal
  • A powerful video about the Earth and human consciousness (video)
  • A prominent defender of Tara has passed to the Otherworld
  • Muirean ni Bhrolchain speaks at “Harpers For Tara” (video)
  • Muireann RIP
    by “Charles Burgess”
    Thought that somehow someday
    we would surely meet again…
    Dissolve from mist amidst the green
    and dissolve back again.
    Swore we’d walk these circles
    tracing time across the sky,
    Waking life and mystery
    walking side by side…
    Felt the firelight flicker,
    felt the sweet repeat of rhyme,
    Heard the ancient stories traded
    yours for mine, yours for mine.
    Sure that song would wrap us ’round
    our faces flush with wine,
    Talking of beloved Tara,
    Smiling with a sigh….
    Soon the sun will rise upon
    the Vale of Tara-Skryne
    The gifts you gave the waking world
    in golden light will gleam,
    And we will treasure memories,
    in written words and reveries,
    of our Ard Ollamh, Seanachí,
    Who fought for future history,
    Who spoke like Tara’s Queen.
    A Muireanne, rest blessed, in peace.
  • ACTION NEEDED TO PROTECT HOMEOPATHY
    Dear Friends:
    The Food & Drug Administration recently began hearings on the regulation of homeopathy.  When the FDA was established in the late 1930s, homeopathics were specifically exempted from the usual drug approval process,  because they had been successfully regulated since the late 1800s by the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the U.S. (HPUS).
    If the FDA succeeds in applying to homeopathy the same yardstick theoretically applied to pharmaceuticals — viz., proof of safety and efficacy through clinical trials costing billions – homeopathy will be dead in America.  No manufacturer of homeopathic remedies could afford clinical trials on the hundreds of remedies that have been used safely and successfully for over two hundred years.
    You may be saying to yourself that this is ridiculous – and I would agree.  But I’ve attached an article I wrote setting forth what I think is happening here.  I urge you to read it.
    If you’ve benefited from homeopathy, I also urge you to write the FDA.  Public comments on their proposed course of action (which remains vague) are accepted up to June 22.
    In writing, here are some points to consider.Take what you need and leave the rest:The FDA is not interested in any anecdotes about how much homeopathy has helped you or your family.  It might be more useful to write about how conventional medicine failed you, if that was your experience.

    Homeopathy has been used successfully for over two hundred years.  How many conventional medical treatments have lasted that long?  Homeopathy persists because it works, not because those who use it are loonies.

    This is merely the latest in a long history of attempts by orthodox medicine to kill homeopathy, starting with the establishment of the American Medical Association.  If you want the full story, read Harris Coulter’s Divided Legacy.Nowhere in the FDA hearing announcement is there a definition of what is meant by “homeopathic.”  The announcement refers to “human drug and biological products labeled as homeopathic” without definition or examples.  The FDA continually confounds “drugs” and homeopathic remedies.  The two are totally different.

    According to the FDA announcement, “Negative health effects from drug products labeled as homeopathic have been reported through the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System and the National Poison Data System (NPDS), which is maintained by the American Association of Poison Control Centers and tracks human poison exposure cases. Data in the NPDS pertaining to homeopathic drug products is tracked under the category ‘Homeopathic Agents.’”  Nowhere are these “negative health effects” explained or elaborated.  No data from the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System is cited, and as the attached shows, Poison Control data doesn’t reliably distinguish between homeopathics, herbal products, and dietary supplements.

    The FDA does not understand homeopathy and how useful it has proven, particularly in epidemics.  The FDA falsely claims that homeopathic remedies “can cause side effects, drug interactions, and allergic or other adverse reactions.”  Drugs, which work biochemically, can indeed do all these things; homeopathic remedies, which work energetically, do not.Homeopathic remedies are non-toxic, unlike the pharmaceuticals and GMOs the FDA promotes.  Why does the FDA feel compelled to attack a safe, proven system of healing like homeopathy when the agency is not doing a decent job of making sure people don’t die from OTC and prescription drugs?  (For more on this, see the new documentary “Bought” by Jeff Hays.)

    This is not about our health and safety but about achieving a monopoly for the pharmaceutical industry.  If safety were the true motivating factor, the FDA would be holding hearings on acetaminophen, laxatives, cosmetics, and proton pump inhibitors, all of which are sold over-the-counter and all of which had more “poison exposure cases” than homeopathic remedies.

    At risk is our right to choose what goes into our bodies or the bodies of our children.  It is no accident that the FDA hearings coincide with a move in California to make vaccinations mandatory and in Australia to withdraw welfare from parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.

    We live in difficult times.  It is frightening that we have to fight for our rights to a safe environment, healthy food, and the kind of healthcare we want.

  • ACTION NEEDED TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT
    Ask Bill Gates to divest from fossil fuels in his investment portfolio

ARCHEOLOGY NEWS

LANGUAGE NEWS

HERBAL NEWS

HEALTH NEWS

NATURE NEWS

RELIGION NEWS

POLITICS AND ETHICS